The first design fair in the Middle East, Design Days Dubai, returns for its fifth edition this year at The Venue in Downtown Dubai. The visionary fair will present some of the most awe-inspiring limited-edition collectibles, modern furniture, and contemporary design pieces from leading and up-and-coming international designers and galleries. The event, which takes place from March 14th until the 18th, will also present a series of public programs, including special panel discussions, talks, and workshops, along with guided tours, installations, and live performances. Read on to discover what Fair Director Cyril Zammit wants you to know ahead of this year’s highly anticipated event.
Be in it for the long term – collecting is a lifetime pursuit.
“Rarity demands extra care. While purchasing a collectible item can of course start with the same impulsive ‘buy’ urge as an ordinary object, we are not dealing with the ordinary here. Think of acquiring a limited-edition creation in the same manner as you would an art piece: to add a particular personal touch to your surroundings, something that is carefully chosen by you. You will have this piece accompanying you for years and you may also wish to pass it on to your next of kin or donate it to a museum one day. Design creations might sometimes look more solid that an art piece, but time is working on the material in the same way it works on canvas. After your first instinctive purchase, if you feel you are keen on buying the next one, you are starting to turn into a collector. It might become obsessive, but there is nothing wrong with collecting great design. It gains value with years. At Design Days Dubai, we are mostly showing the classic icons of the future with the line-up being mostly contemporary design.”
Exclusivity is the ultimate luxury.
“There are great design brands offering the chance for everyone to have a nice set-up at home. Acquiring a limited-edition design piece is somehow a final touch to a distinctive home that will make you the proud owner of a piece produced either only for you (a bespoke commission) or in a limited way (as a limited edition). Often galleries present a series of eight or 12 pieces, all numbered and all with a certificate of authenticity. If you yearn for an even rarer piece, you can see with the design gallery if you could purchase the Artist Proof. It won’t be the final object, but you then own something that is even closer to the origin of the piece. The ultimate luxury is specially commissioning a piece by a designer, something totally tailored for you, your home, or your office. When looking at the price of design pieces, also bear in mind the time invested in the creation (including prototyping) of the piece, the craftsmanship at work in its production, the reputation of the designer, and the gallery you are buying it from – and the fact that all of them have made their way to your doorstep in Dubai, some from a great distance away!”
Think less about noble materials, more about noble application.
“There is a general assumption that certain materials are ‘noble’ and others are not. Immediate clichés would be gold and marble. What I would like to propose to Design Days Dubai’s visitors is that a designer can ‘ennoble’ any material by giving it a new status. From the Campana brothers using left-over rubber strips for their sushi series and wood from the ghettos for the ‘Favella’ chairs to Studio Swine creating a line of furniture made from left-overs from a construction site during their live performance at Design Days Dubai in 2013, everything can be used to create incredible, elevated design. Also do consider than resin can be an even better investment than glass when it comes to surfaces. You simply polish away a scratch, whereas a scratch on glass is far more difficult – even impossible – to remove.”
Start at home – support local design talent.
“Design Days Dubai will host exhibitors from 20 countries in March, and there is fantastic homegrown talent from the UAE and also the region. Supporting their creations is not only a seal of appreciation of their works, but it also helps them reinforce their relationship with local producers. Design Days Dubai is the leading destination for design in March and the only collectible design fair in the region. Since 2012, we have showcased regional talents, and their presence has grown by 47 percent to date. Often a local designer will also create something culturally linked to your values or aesthetics. It is a chance to bond with them and help them develop and grow. We have tangible signs now that this emerging generation of designers is being taken seriously abroad with Aljoud Lootah being the first Emirati to have her work acquired by an international institution, The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.”
Get with the program.
“Our non-commercial program is a formidable chance to meet, interact, and learn from the experts. Three daily workshops will give you the opportunity to sit down and work with designers for two hours. French maison Van Cleef & Arpels is also offering workshops with their experts on their booth. For design students, we offer 20-minute mentorship sessions with professionals to review their portfolio. Every evening, the Audi Lounge will host an intimate discussion around innovation right before a keynote speech on a topic around design or architecture. Besides the emerging talents, we welcome Marcel Wanders on Monday, March 14th for a special one-hour lecture during which he will share stories from his incredible works. Finally, we offer the chance to learn from the classic icons of 20th century design thanks to a series of four films showing.”
For more information about the fair, click here.